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By Joshua Jabcuga
October 28, 2004
The Other One-Eyed Monster:
Iím not sure you could call me a cinephile. I remember after my interview with KEVIN MURPHY of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 over a year ago when he was promoting his excellent book, A YEAR AT THE MOVIES, the term ďcinephileĒ left a bad taste in my mouth. I guess it was the tone that was used, but to me, the word became synonymous with film snob. And when I think of film snobs, I think of stuffy talking heads like HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHEREís JEFFREY WELLS. JEFFREY WELLS is a talented writer, but man, the dude really deserves a dick-punch now and then.
Wherein Josh Jabcuga serves a cold dish of revenge to film snobs with his review of the recently-released-to-DVD THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE, the film that inspired Tarantinoís KILL BILL.
Letís get one thing straight: thereís absolutely nothing wrong with taking the art of movies seriously. The problem is film snobs take themselves too seriously They let their egocentric holier-than-thou attitudes get in the way in what they should be doing: trying to spread the good word about great movies, and the love we all share for these classic flicks.
Sure, thereís a bit of irony in all of this when itís coming from a guy like me, who every week gets on his little cyber soap box and praises or criticizes efforts from authors, musicians, and film makers alike. Most of the time, Iím not into bashing people, especially considering my columns often deal with the underdogs or the dark horses of pop culture. Iím more into hyping up artists that may have been overlooked by the masses in favor of the latest craptacular opus from the most recent winner of AMERICAN IDOL. If I do drop the verbal smackdown on someone, itís probably someone that really wonít be affected by my cutthroat abuse, like a CLAY AIKEN or a JESSICA SIMPSON, someone who will earn and waste more cash in a single year than you or Iíll probably make in our entire lives.
Back to my point: I donít think Iím a cinephile. Iíve seen countless movies in my life, watched multiple movies in one day, spent time in a dark theater when I should have been outside enjoying the precious summer, can quote certain scenes from my favorite scripts verbatim, and have dropped full paychecks on DVDs and assorted shit that I probably donít need. So me, like you, weíre probably movie geeks. Movie geeks being the alternative
to cinephiles. Weíre usually younger than cinephiles, are of the TARANTINO generation, either coming of age in high school or college when RESERVOIR DOGS and PULP FICTION were all the rage, or a generation or two B.T. (Before TARANTINO hit the big time, that isÖraised on many of the same films that TARANTINO was probably geeking out over at the video store he used to work at before Hollywood came calling).
That brings us to THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE, AKA THEY CALLED HER ONE EYE, AKA HOOKERíS REVENGE, a film directed by BO ARNE VIBENIUS and supposedly the first film to be banned in Sweden. It was reported elsewhere as one of TARANTINOíS main influences for KILL BILL. It was also advertised as a hardcore revenge picture. It sounded like a phsychotronic film to me, so I was game.
Have you ever heard of this film before? I hadnít, but thatís what makes being a film geek fun. You donít have to be like a cinephile who simply pretends to have seen everything as he or she peers down their nose at you. A film geek is all about discovering movies that may have slipped under the radar, movies that may have been big before their time, drive-in films that have somehow fallen into obscurity, or movies that studio publicity departments dropped the ball on, only to develop their own cult following after a DVD release (Ala DONNIE DARKO, or back in the day before video, when HBO was big at giving movies a second chance and allowing them to gain acceptance on their own, like EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS). Thereís nothing better than being pleasantly surprised after you take a chance on a movie, and THRILLER is a wonderful example.
If youíre a frequent reader of this column, youíve heard me describe things as ďballs-to-the-wall.Ē Itís one of my favorites. Iíd probably sell my soul to see my name on a movie poster, being attributed the quotation, ďThis movie is balls-to-the-wall all the way,Ē from Josh Jabcuga of Squib Central at Moviepoopshoot.com. How cool would that be? Well, THRILLER is balls-to-the-wall, all the way (but thatís somewhat inappropriate given the nature of the filmís material).
THRILLER is about as hardcore as they come. The plot is fairly simple. The young, mute woman known as Frigga, played by the delicious CHRISTINA LINDBERG, is taken prisoner by the upscale white pimp, Tony, played by HEINZ HOPF (and donít think for a moment Iíd heard of these people before seeing this film). How does Tony get the upper hand? He turns Frigga into a junkie by injecting her with heroin, and promising sheíll get just
enough of a dose each day to get her by, as long as she complies with servicing Tonyís clientele. To complicate matters, this scumbag types a letter to Friggaís parents claiming she willingly ran away, and forces her to sign it. She escapes, only itís too late. Frigga returns to her village to find her parents being buried, both having died as a result of stress and devastation. Their hearts were broken as they believed their daughter had abandoned them for a different life, a life that didnít include them.
Tony is an evil little bastard. When Frigga is uncooperative with her first client, scratching her customerís face into a bloody mess, Tony decides to teach Frigga a lesson. As punishment, and to set an example, Tony removes Friggaís eye with a knife. Itís one of the most graphic scenes Iíve ever seen, and the realism is gut-wrenching. There are even rumors that for the effects shot, a real corpse was used. True or not, I have no idea, but after watching the scene, you can certainly see how such a rumor may have been started.
The remainder of the movie is a very effective, sometimes strange tale of revenge, much like a prototype for KILL BILL, which is essentially what it is. Whatís unsettling about this film, though, is the use of graphic sex. Frigga is abused, forced into sexual acts with seedy customers, and the camera doesnít flinch. Itís weird because one minute youíre watching this foreign action flick (satisfactorily dubbed, by the way, with the DVD option of subtitles), and the next, a porno. The filmed sex is not on the level of something softcore, like Cinemax After Dark; this film shows penetration, with a character who is, for all intents and purposes, being raped. Toward the end of the second act, thereís even aÖwell, letís just say director BO ARNE VIBENIUS tosses in what they refer to in the porn industry as a money shot, which all but guaranteed an X rating was delivered to the film, and deservedly so.
The use of sex in THRILLER is twofold. First off, thereís nothing sensual or erotic about it in this film. By all means, there shouldnít be. Itís rape, and the director of the film handles it in such a way that is not gratuitous, if thatís possible. It also appears as if a body double was used, because the filmís star never really has a close-up in any of the scenes where penetration is shown, but that doesnít make the scenes any less harrowing. Secondly, the graphic sex adds both an obvious and subconscious layer to the film, where the viewer canít help but identify and feel for the victim. As a result of the graphic sex scenes, the motivation for Frigga to get her revenge is unparalleled, and certainly qualified beyond any level heretofore unseen in film, in one movie geekís opinion.
If you can get beyond the fact that this film has some true hardcore pornographic elements to it, Iíd highly recommend seeing it. For some people, that will be difficult to overlook, which is totally understandable. Still, itís an unforgettable experience. If youíre a fan of QUENTIN TARANTINOíS KILL BILL, Iíd say this film is a must. Itís a different kind of film and it probably requires a bit of an acquired taste from the viewer.
Depending on how you look at it, THRILLER is either a twisted action movie with the most hardcore sex scenes youíll ever see, or itís a porno with the best plot in the history of smut. And chances are the cinephiles out there will think theyíre too good for this trash, and theyíre probably right. Then again, no one ever accused cinephiles of being cool.
For the record, Josh Jabcuga would watch THRILLER over THE ENGLISH PATIENT any day of the week. When not taking belated shots at stuffy Web columnists, Josh Jabcuga can be found writing Squib Central, published every Thursday, exclusively at www.moviepoopshoot.com.
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